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Roman Catholic Church of St Nicholas and boundary wall

A Grade II Listed Building in Manor Park, London

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Latitude: 51.5541 / 51°33'14"N

Longitude: 0.0447 / 0°2'40"E

OS Eastings: 541851

OS Northings: 185896

OS Grid: TQ418858

Mapcode National: GBR MK.PYK

Mapcode Global: VHHNB.Q6GF

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of St Nicholas and boundary wall

Listing Date: 9 February 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1422382

Location: Newham, London, E12

County: London

District: Newham

Electoral Ward/Division: Manor Park

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Newham

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Forest Gate All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

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Roman Catholic church of 1869-70, a Gothic Revival design by Gilbert Blount. Also a contemporary boundary wall.


Roman Catholic church of 1869-70, a Gothic design by Gilbert Blount built as the chapel of a Catholic Industrial School. The church is reverse orientated, with the entrance to the east (to form a convenient link to the Manor House). This description follows conventional liturgical orientation, as if the altar were to the east.

MATERIALS: London stock brick with black brick banding and decoration, and Bath stone dressings; the roofs covered in Welsh slate.

PLAN: single volume chapel consisting of an aisleless nave and apsidal chapel raised over a ground floor hall, the west porch reached by steps with accommodation below, and a two storey adjunct housing sacristies etc. on the south side.

EXTERIOR: the church is in the Gothic style. The western part of the south side abuts the Manor House at ground floor level. Both church and southern extension make a picturesque group when viewed from the street, along with the high boundary wall, gate piers and the entrance doorway with Gothic stone surround. The west porch of the church is reached by steps, with modern railings, leading to a raised platform over vaults. The entrance has a stone hoodmould and corbels carved with the likenesses of Cardinal Manning and Archbishop (Cardinal) Manning. Over the pointed entrance is a trefoil-headed and canopied niche containing a figure of St Nicholas. Above the porch in the steep west gable is a large rose window with plate tracery. The north side has three pairs of two-light stone mullion and transom windows with pointed segmental brick arches to the ground floor hall and single lancets to the chapel above, except the western (gallery) bay, which has a circular octofoil window with diaper brick patterning below. The chapel windows all have stone hoodmoulds with naturalistically carved label stops. The apse has shorter paired lancets, with inset brick crosses below. In the central bay instead of a window is a richly carved niche (no statue), with projecting corbel, stubby column, canopy and tall finial. On the south side, the projecting sacristy building has a three-light mullion and transom windows on the ground floor and three-light mullioned windows above.

INTERIOR: the interior of the ground floor hall is functional in character, with thin iron columns supporting the principal ceiling beams. To the south (below the sacristy) is a kitchen, while to the west (under the raised platform at the west end), is WC accommodation, under barrel vaulting. The west entrance porch contains two holy water stoups and carved portrait corbels over the entrance to the main body of the church.

The interior of the church consists of a bay of four bays, with a canted apse. The walls are plastered and painted, with an open timber roof to the nave with collars and curved braces to the principal trusses. In the apse the roof is boarded and the roof-ribs are brought down onto the columns of a wall-arcade, supported on massive triple corbels of carved angels and seraphim. On the side walls of the sanctuary are an aumbry and a piscina, and a further opening linking through to the priest’s sacristy, each under a hoodmould with carved stops.

At the west end there is an organ gallery on thin iron columns with a delicate iron balustrade, accessed by a spiral metal stair. Below the gallery, in the south west corner, a small chapel gives off alongside the entrance porch, originally the baptistery and more recently the Lady Chapel, with a modern stained glass window of the Virgin and Child. The hoodmould over the door from this chapel to the main body of the church has corbels carved with the likenesses of Archbishop Wiseman and Mgr Searle. Similar portraits are in the corbels over the door to the sacristies. The sacristies have plain Gothic fireplaces with chamfered surrounds and six-panel doors with chamfered panels. The priest’s sacristy has an open timber roof and a door with blind trefoil panels communicating with the sanctuary. An original winding timber stair with octagonal newel and chamfered balusters leads from the boys’ sacristy down to the kitchen of the ground floor hall.

Original furnishings include the unfixed benches in the nave (with some also in the west gallery), with open backs and chamfered and shouldered ends, and the original organ in the gallery, by Alfred Monk (restored in 1968). There are a number of early or original fitted cupboards in the priest’s sacristy. The sanctuary walls were originally richly stencilled as a setting for an elaborate altar and reredos, with altar rails like the gallery rails. The church suffered from wartime damage and the decoration has been painted out or more likely removed, along with all the original sanctuary furnishings. The modern forward altar is on a timber dais; behind this against the east wall is a canted central polished marble reredos panel and plinth, a mid-C20 setting for the tabernacle (now removed). The windows are mostly clear glazed but the eastern windows have applied transparencies.


Architectural History Practice, ‘St Nicholas, Manor Park’, Taking Stock report: Roman Catholic Diocese of Brentwood, 2012
Cherry, B, O’Brien, C and Pevsner, N, Buildings of England: London, 5: East, 2005, 287, 289

Foster, S, Brentwood Diocesan Archives: Architectural Inventory, (undated)

Lolin, S, St Nicholas’ Industrial School and Chapel, 2010


The church originated as the chapel of St Nicholas Industrial School, established by Archbishop (later Cardinal) Manning of Westminster in 1868. Industrial Schools had been established under the 1857 Industrial Schools Act to address problems of juvenile unemployment and crime by removing children from their home to a boarding environment, where they could receive a basic education and learn a trade. The principal building of the St Nicholas Industrial School was the former Manor House, an early C19 building on the site of an earlier building, which is listed Grade II, to which the chapel is attached.

The church was built in 1869-70 from designs by Gilbert R Blount. The foundation stone, which bears no inscription, was laid on the southern wall of the sanctuary near the piscina by the headmaster, Mgr Francis Searle, on 8 December 1869 and the church was opened in July 1870. The dedication to St Nicholas was chosen by Manning in honour of his predecessor, Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, as well as on account of St Nicholas being the patron saint of children. Countess Helen Tasker, benefactor of many church building projects in the diocese (then part of Westminster, but since 1918 in the Diocese of Brentwood) made a significant contribution to the cost of the chapel.

From 1896 the church was served from Ilford, but in 1918 it became the church of the new parish of Manor Park. The presbytery was adjoining at no. 21 Gladding Road. However, a second (temporary) church of St Stephen, Manor Park) was built in 1924 and after a presbytery was built there in 1934, St Stephen’s became the centre of the parish, and St Nicholas’ a chapel of ease.

The school closed in 1922 and in 1925 the whole of the site apart from the chapel and presbytery was bought by the London Cooperative Society to serve as a milk depot. Most of the former school buildings were demolished but the Manor House was retained.

St Nicholas’ chapel was damaged by bombing in 1941 and 1945, and all the stained glass was lost. The building was repaired by Sterrett & Blouet of Westminster in 1949-51. In 1988 the Sisters of the Sacred Heart took up residence in the former presbytery. About the same time, the Cooperative Society sold the Manor House, and it was converted to flats. Other parts of the former school site have been developed for housing.

The church has not been used for regular worship since 2013. The presbytery is also currently (2014) unoccupied.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of St Nicholas, Gladding Road, Manor Park, of 1869-70 by Gilbert Blount, also a contemporary boundary wall, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as a picturesquely-composed and well-detailed stone-built design by Gilbert R Blount, a noted Roman Catholic Gothic Revival architect, which retains original furnishings of note;
* Historic interest: as a chapel attached to a Roman Catholic Industrial School, the principal building of which was the attached former Manor House, an early C19 building on the site of an earlier building, which is listed Grade II;
* Group value: as a picturesque architectural composition, whose apse, sacristies and boundary wall make a notable contribution to the local townscape. Although of a contrasting architectural style, the church has group value with the adjacent Grade II former Manor House.

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